Composer, music educator, and jazz musician Wendell Logan was the founding chair of the jazz studies department at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a professor of African American music. A native of Thomson, Georgia, he first studied music with his father, a professional musician. From an early age, he was exposed to the Southern cultural environs of spirituals, jazz, and blues. He often heard performances by musicians touring the area including Fats Domino, James Brown and "Little Richard" Penniman.
He attended Florida A&M University, earning a bachelor's degree in 1962. He earned his master's from Southern Illinois University and his doctorate in composition from the University of Iowa. He came to Oberlin in 1973.
Professor Logan has received numerous commissions and has won many awards for his compositions and performances, including four from the National Endowment for the Arts, a dozen or so ASCAP awards in a 15-year span, three Ohio Arts Council grants and, in 1991, the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. Also that year, he won the Cleveland Arts Prize in Music. In 1994, he was a fellow at the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Italy.
He has performed in Africa, the Caribbean, and throughout the United States. A soprano saxophonist and a classically trained composer, he coordinates and performs with the celebrated Oberlin Jazz Faculty Octet.
His work can be heard on the Orion, Golden Crest, and RPM Records labels, among others.
In honor of Professor Logan’s accomplishments in jazz studies and his commitment to the program that he has long directed, the conservatory established an endowed scholarship in his honor in 1991. His former students Leon Lee Dorsey '81 and James McBride '79 helped to create the fund to provide an annual scholarship to an outstanding jazz studies student.
Along with the scholarship, the Bertram and Judith Kohl Building will be a lasting tribute to a man who has exemplified jazz at Oberlin for more than three decades.